Thursday, 21 June 2012

Meet the ladies

Had I mentioned that we became beekeepers this year? It's something we've wanted to do since our holiday in New Zealand a few years ago. That was the holiday that we realised that city life is not for us, that things had never felt more "right" than when we were in a small place surrounded by open space, and animals, and bees. It was a bit of an epiphany holiday, and since then we have been inching towards making the changes that mean one day we can have that life every day.
 First we moved out to the suburbs to get a house of our own and a bigger garden. Then things got a bit stagnant. Career changes, and the British weather conspired against us. Until we spotted the local honey show whilst walking round the town one Saturday afternoon and popped in. We expected to leave fifteen minutes later having seen some wax, bought some honey and observed some bees. Instead we walked out after well over an hour, having ooh-ed and aahh-ed over the comb, spoken at length to beekeepers about the size of our garden and signed up to the winter theory course!

It all very exciting and a bit daunting. What were we thinking?! Our garden is bigger than the last one, but certainly not big, and although we'd talked about chickens soon, possibly, and bees "one day" we hadn't expected to leap in and have it the other way around. That was October, the classes started in January, and we thought no more about it.

Christmas came and went, 2012 began and along with it our new venture, and we were hooked. The nights of our theory class became the highlight of the week, we were theoretical beekeepers, and we couldn't wait to see actual bees.

We had to wait a while, once again the British weather got in the way, every night we went to the apiary in the spring it rained, and on one occasion the site even flooded so we had to de-camp to the local pub instead. But about a month ago the sunshine finally arrived, and so did our time with the ladies of hive J. And I fell in love.

I am in awe of how amazing this little colony is, and how week after week I feel like I know them a little better. It is a little colony as they didn't have the best start to their year, but they are the best tempered bees most of the beekeepers have seen. So much so that there is a fight going on for who gets the queens the colony produces.

At the moment our garden isn't ready for our own group of ladies. But we're working on that, and hopefully by this time next year we can spend leisurely evenings lighting the smoker and enjoying the (hopefully) gentle buzz of bees working. Until then Hive J is keeping us very happy indeed!

We really are covered in bees! 

Friday, 8 June 2012

Their new game.

The cats have a new game to pass the time in the bad weather. I'm not sure what they call it, but I call it "dead mouse, live mouse." I don't know if you've come across it but the rules are as follows:

- The game involves two or more players, one (or more) of which must be a cat, the other(s) human.

- The game may commence at any time regardless of whether the human player(s) realises they are playing.

- The game is played in a "playing area" that is made up of the living area of the human players (house, flat, etc) and any areas in the immediate vicinity (porch, area immediately outside the back door etc).  Any garden areas more than a few feet from the back/front doors are not counted as playing area.

- In order for the game to start the feline players must have concealed two mice in the playing area. One live, one dead.

- Feline players then sit back and relax and watch as the human players discover the hidden mice.

- The game is played over an indefinite time period, and only finishes when the human players have discovered both mice. The only exception to this rule is if the ex-mouse is not longer in a recognisable state. If the game is played long enough for this to be the case it is considered to be in stale-mate until the playing piece is replaced.

- The live mouse does not have to have been successfully captured for the game to be over, just discovered.
- Bonus points are scored if the dead mouse is discovered whilst a human player is in pursuit of the live mouse. 

- The feline players always win. There is no situation in which the feline players cannot win.